Bishop Declares Day of Prayer

September 30, 2008

A DAY OF PRAYER FOR

OUR NATION AND WORLD

OCTOBER 7, 2008

FEAST OF OUR LADY OF THE ROSARY

As our government leaders attempt to bring stability to financial institutions of our nation and give hope to market and trade sectors of our economy, I ask that the Catholic Community of Northern Alabama, in the Diocese of Birmingham, set aside Tuesday, October 7, 2008, the Feast of Our Lady of the Rosary, as A Day of Prayer for our Nation and World.

With further rumors of the proliferation of nuclear weapons in Iran, complicating an already precarious situation on the international scene, we need also to pray for peace in our world.

I ask that each Sunday over the next several weeks, parishes and Religious houses include in their Sunday General Intercessions the following prayers:

“That the Holy Spirit may guide our government leaders as they address the problems facing our nation’s economy and as they seek proper paths to peace in our world, we pray to the Lord…”

“For the guidance of the Holy Spirit as voters choose the best possible candidates as leaders for local, state, and national offices, people who will protect the most vulnerable among us, especially the unborn, and promote the cause of life in all its forms and family life, we pray to the Lord…”

On Tuesday, October 7, 2008, at 10:00 a.m., I will dedicate the Shrine of Our Lady of Lourdes on the grounds of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery in Hanceville. This is the 150th anniversary year of the apparitions to St. Bernadette in Lourdes, France.

I ask that Catholics of the Diocese have recourse to the prayer of the Rosary daily during the Month of October we as a nation put God back into the center of our solutions for all our national and international problems.

Most Reverend Robert J. Baker, S.T.D.

Bishop of Birmingham in Alabama

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Speak Out Against the Freedom of Choice Act

September 26, 2008

The proposed “Freedom of Choice Act” or “FOCA” (S. 1173, H.R. 1964) will be disasterous for those who are trying to defend life. Please read the article below

http://www.usccb.org/comm/archives/2008/08-138.shtml

 

Recommended Actions: Contact your U.S. Representative and two U.S. Senators by FAX letter, e-mail, or phone. Call the U.S. Capitol switchboard at: 202.224.3121; or call Members’ local offices. Full contact info can be found on Members of Congress’s web sites, at: www.senate.gov and www.house.gov.

Message to all Members: “Please pledge now to oppose FOCA.” Those Members of Congress who have signed on as cosponsors of FOCA should be asked to remove their names from the bill. To check the list of current cosponsors, see: nchla.org/docdisplay.asp?ID=191.

Other Actions:

1. Arrange a formal meeting with your Representative and two Senators.

2. Communicate with your Representative and two Senators at town meetings.

3. Place an ad opposing FOCA in your local Catholic paper or other publication. For an ad by the Bishops’ Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities urging opposition to FOCA, see: www.usccb.org/prolife/media/docs/foca.pdf.

4. Write letters to the editor or express your views on call in radio talk shows.


40 Days for Life Begins Today!

September 24, 2008

“40 Days for Life unleashes in an organized fashion the most potent force that we can muster against the culture of death — prayer and sacrifice. The only way we will definitively conquer the death industry is by applying the spiritual resources that the Lord has entrusted to us, and I wholeheartedly endorse the 40 Days for Life campaign for that reason. May God produce abundant fruits out of so much sacrifice and prayer!”

Fr. Tom Euteneur


Novena For Justice, Peace and Life

September 11, 2008

A number of ways to pray this, from Faithful Citizenship:

Pray for justice, peace, and life with the Novena for Faithful Citizenship. Download the Podcast and join Catholics throughout the United States in prayer, beginning Tuesday, September 2, nine weeks before the election.

Options for praying the Novena for Faithful Citizenship:

  • Start on September 2 and pray for nine consecutive Tuesdays, up until the general election.
  • Start the Novena on any day of the week, whenever people gather, and pray on that day every week.
  • Begin praying the Novena on October 26, nine days before the election, and continue each consecutive day.
  • Create any combination that works for you and your community—and feel free to pray the Novena more than once (1 Thes 5:17).

  • A Response to Senator Biden

    September 9, 2008

    From Archbishop Chaput:

    On August 24, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, describing herself as an ardent, practicing Catholic, misrepresented the overwhelming body of Catholic teaching against abortion to the show’s nationwide audience, while defending her “pro-choice” abortion views. On September 7, Sen. Joseph Biden compounded the problem to the same Meet the Press audience.

    Sen. Biden is a man of distinguished public service. That doesn’t excuse poor logic or bad facts.
    Asked when life begins, Sen. Biden said that, “it’s a personal and private issue.” But in reality, modern biology knows exactly when human life begins: at the moment of conception. Religion has nothing to do with it. People might argue when human “personhood” begins – though that leads public policy in very dangerous directions – but no one can any longer claim that the beginning of life is a matter of religious opinion.

    Sen. Biden also confused the nature of pluralism. Real pluralism thrives on healthy, non-violent disagreement;it requires an environment where people of conviction will struggle respectfully but vigorously to advance their beliefs. In his interview, the senator observed that other people with strong religious views disagree with the Catholic approach to abortion. It’s certainly true that we need to acknowledge the views of other people and compromise whenever possible – but not at the expense of a developing child’s right to life. Abortion is a foundational issue; it is not an issue like housing policy or the price of foreign oil. It always involves the intentional killing of an innocent life, and it is always, grievously wrong. If, as Sen. Biden said, “I’m prepared as a matter of faith [emphasisadded] to accept that life begins at the moment of conception,” then he is not merely wrong about the science of new life; he also fails to defend the innocent life he already knows is there.

    As the senator said in his interview, he has opposed public funding for abortions. To his great credit, he also backed a successful ban on partial-birth abortions. But his strong support for the 1973 Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade and the false “right” to abortion it enshrines, can’t be excused by any serious Catholic. Support for Roe and the “right to choose” an abortion simply masks what abortion is, and what abortion does. Roe is bad law. As long as it stands, it prevents returning the abortion issue to the states where it belongs, so that the American people can decide its future through fair debate and legislation.

    In his Meet the Press interview, Sen. Biden used a morally exhausted argument that American
    Catholics have been hearing for 40 years: i.e., that Catholics can’t “impose” their religiously based views on the rest of the country. But resistance to abortion is a matter of human rights, not religious opinion. And the senator knows very well as a lawmaker that all law involves the imposition of some people’s convictions on everyone else. That is the nature of the law. American Catholics have allowed themselves to be bullied into accepting the destruction of more than a million developing unborn children a year. Other people have imposed their “pro-choice” beliefs on American society without any remorse for decades.


    Fact Sheet About the Church’s Teaching

    September 3, 2008

    On Abortion from the USCCB:

    Fact sheet by the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities. Click here to print as a PDF.

    The Catechism of the Catholic Church states: “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law” (No. 2271).

    In response to those who say this teaching has changed or is of recent origin, here are the facts:

    * From earliest times, Christians sharply distinguished themselves from surrounding pagan cultures by rejecting abortion and infanticide. The earliest widely used documents of Christian teaching and practice after the New Testament in the 1st and 2nd centuries, the Didache (Teaching of the Twelve Apostles) and Letter of Barnabas, condemned both practices, as did early regional and particular Church councils.

    * To be sure, knowledge of human embryology was very limited until recent times. Many Christian thinkers accepted the biological theories of their time, based on the writings of Aristotle (4th century BC) and other philosophers. Aristotle assumed a process was needed over time to turn the matter from a woman’s womb into a being that could receive a specifically human form or soul. The active formative power for this process was thought to come entirely from the man – the existence of the human ovum (egg), like so much of basic biology, was unknown.

    * However, such mistaken biological theories never changed the Church’s common conviction that abortion is gravely wrong at every stage. At the very least, early abortion was seen as attacking a being with a human destiny, being prepared by God to receive an immortal soul (cf. Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you”).

    * In the 5th century AD this rejection of abortion at every stage was affirmed by the great bishop-theologian St. Augustine. He knew of theories about the human soul not being present until some weeks into pregnancy. Because he used the Greek Septuagint translation of the Old Testament, he also thought the ancient Israelites had imposed a more severe penalty for accidentally causing a miscarriage if the fetus was “fully formed” (Exodus 21: 22-23), language not found in any known Hebrew version of this passage. But he also held that human knowledge of biology was very limited, and he wisely warned against misusing such theories to risk committing homicide. He added that God has the power to make up all human deficiencies or lack of development in the Resurrection, so we cannot assume that the earliest aborted children will be excluded from enjoying eternal life with God.

    * In the 13th century, St. Thomas Aquinas made extensive use of Aristotle’s thought, including his theory that the rational human soul is not present in the first few weeks of pregnancy. But he also rejected abortion as gravely wrong at every stage, observing that it is a sin “against nature” to reject God’s gift of a new life.

    * During these centuries, theories derived from Aristotle and others influenced the grading of penalties for abortion in Church law. Some canonical penalties were more severe for a direct abortion after the stage when the human soul was thought to be present. However, abortion at all stages continued to be seen as a grave moral evil.

    * From the 13th to 19th centuries, some theologians speculated about rare and difficult cases where they thought an abortion before “formation” or “ensoulment” might be morally justified. But these theories were discussed and then always rejected, as the Church refined and reaffirmed its understanding of abortion as an intrinsically evil act that can never be morally right.

    * In 1827, with the discovery of the human ovum, the mistaken biology of Aristotle was discredited. Scientists increasingly understood that the union of sperm and egg at conception produces a new living being that is distinct from both mother and father. Modern genetics demonstrated that this individual is, at the outset, distinctively human, with the inherent and active potential to mature into a human fetus, infant, child and adult. From 1869 onward the obsolete distinction between the “ensouled” and “unensouled” fetus was permanently removed from canon law on abortion.

    * Secular laws against abortion were being reformed at the same time and in the same way, based on secular medical experts’ realization that “no other doctrine appears to be consonant with reason or physiology but that which admits the embryo to possess vitality from the very moment of conception” (American Medical Association, Report on Criminal Abortion, 1871).

    * Thus modern science has not changed the Church’s constant teaching against abortion, but has underscored how important and reasonable it is, by confirming that the life of each individual of the human species begins with the earliest embryo.

    * Given the scientific fact that a human life begins at conception, the only moral norm needed to understand the Church’s opposition to abortion is the principle that each and every human life has inherent dignity, and thus must be treated with the respect due to a human person. This is the foundation for the Church’s social doctrine, including its teachings on war, the use of capital punishment, euthanasia, health care, poverty and immigration. Conversely, to claim that some live human beings do not deserve respect or should not be treated as “persons” (based on changeable factors such as age, condition, location, or lack of mental or physical abilities) is to deny the very idea of inherent human rights. Such a claim undermines respect for the lives of many vulnerable people before and after birth.

    For more information: Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Declaration on Procured Abortion (1974), nos. 6-7; John R. Connery, S.J., Abortion: The Development of the Roman Catholic Perspective (1977); Germain Grisez, Abortion: The Myths, the Realities, and the Arguments (1970), Chapter IV; U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, On Embryonic Stem Cell Research (2008); Pope John Paul II, Evangelium Vitae (1995), nos. 61-2.